• Matthew Mancini

Nikola’s Head of Fuel Cell Development Leaves

Diagram of Nikola’s hydrogen fueling system used for their electric semi-trucks (Source: Hydrogen Cars Now)

By Matthew Mancini

April 12th, 2021

The executive vice president of technology, hydrogen, and fuel cells at Nikola Corp., (NASDAQ: NKLA), the battery-electric semi-truck startup, recently departed the company on April 1st. Since Jesse Schneider left, the company’s stock has plummeted 10.6% as of Monday.

In an emailed statement on April 7th, Nikola’s current CEO Mark Russell said that “Jesse Schneider recently departed Nikola on good terms, we understand to pursue a business opportunity in the hydrogen industry.”

Schneider led Nikola’s engineering teams and helped develop their “on fuel cell systems, a planned hydrogen fueling station network and storage technology”, according to Transport Topics.

Nikola went public in June 2020 and was at one point valued at 26.3 billion. The company was considered a huge potential rival for Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) and making huge headwinds, contributing to the electric vehicle boom.

Their glory days might be over. Shares in the company have fallen by more than 80% since their reverse merger IPO with VectoIQ back in June.

Source: Bloomberg

The massive decline started back in September 2020 after the short seller Hindenburg alleged Nikola as an intricate fraud. The report claims that Nikola’s founder and executive chairman, Trevor Milton, made false claims about the company’s technology. One of those technologies was their hydrogen fuel cell batteries, which Hindenburg says never existed.

Nikola planned on getting their fuel cell batteries from General Motors (NYSE: GM) to help power the company’s semi-trucks. Days after Milton resigns because of the fraud allegations as well as sexual assault allegations, GM withdrew from the $2 billion deal.

Not all is bleak for Nikola though. The company is ahead of schedule on a $600 million electric truck assembly plant in Arizona. The plant is reported to be fully functional by 2023.